TikTok limits the visibility of teens' videos amid safety push

Direct Messages will be turned off by default, too.

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A teenager presents a smartphone with the logo of Chinese social network Tik Tok, on January 21, 2021 in Nantes, western France. (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP) (Photo by LOIC VENANCE/AFP via Getty Images)
LOIC VENANCE/AFP via Getty Images

TikTok's determination to clean up its feeds now includes significant limits on its app for the teenage crowd. The social video service is limiting the visibility of teens' videos, with the most restrictions applying to the youngest users. Teens aged 13 to 15 are set to private by default, and will have to decide who can see a video the first time they post. They'll have that option for every video they post beyond that, and they won't have access to Duet or Stitch features.

Older teens will see restrictions, too. TikTok will turn off Direct Messages by default for 16- and 17-year-olds joining the service for the first time, and ask existing users to review their settings if they haven't tried DMs before. The company will also double-check before those older teens enable downloads for their videos.

The social media giant will try to promote healthy usage habits, too. Notifications will turn off for teens under 16 starting at 9PM local time, while 16- and 17-year-olds will receive their alerts until 10PM. This will theoretically help teens wind down, not to mention discourage late-night bullying.

TikTok stressed that there was "no finish line" for privacy and safety efforts, and that there would be more to come in the months ahead. The focus is clear, however — TikTok doesn't want stories of teens facing bullies, creeps and other abusers that found them through public videos and unsolicited messages. In theory, the restrictions provide a gentler introduction to TikTok that helps younger audiences understand the consequences of their actions.

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